Before moving on from blogging about the convention, let’s all say hooray for the NYPD. Aren’t they great?
And are the various wusses now prepared to say that maybe the American people really loved Zell Miller? There is still room in American political life for honest passion, and I was frankly very discouraged to see so many of our people openly wondering whether it was a mistake to permit the unwashed to see a man who was angry about seeing his party go down the rathole.
This in turn made me reflect on “television,” and I wonder if this convention didn’t mark a watershed in American cultural history. In this sense: McCluhan saw that television was going to be an enormous force in creating political consensus, both in America and globally. He stressed that tv was “cool,” and that “hot” personalities would do badly on it. If you wanted to succeed on tv, you had to be relaxed, laid back, wear cool colors etc. etc. otherwise you’d turn off the audience and the audience would turn you off.
But I think that era is over now. First of all, because of the net, which has diversified our sources of information so dramatically. We no longer need the networks or the various Post’s and Times’s. We can just log on. And secondly, tv has gotten a lot hotter. Probably a lot of that is due to MTV and other such, but in any case the screen is now a much less antiseptic thing than it was a generation ago. People now argue and fight on tv, the decibels are higher, and the broadcasters are changing their style. They are competing for audience rather than monopolizing it. And so they change.
I suspect that when the cultural history of this period is written, the two big names will be Rush and Drudge, both of whom dramatically undercut the power of the Old Media, and gave the American people something they desperately wanted: the information that the Old Media monopolists didn’t want to reach us. I don’t think we’d have seen the rise of Fox News without Drudge and Rush. And when Fox outpulled the old networks during the Convention, the revolution was official.
And those who had gotten used to thinking in McLuhanesque terms missed it, which is why they ran from Zell. Even those whose own success was due to blogs, and talk radio.
Finally, I believe that for many years the American people knew they were being deceived by the “major media,” but they didn’t know where to go to get good information. Now they know. And they’re getting it. So they recognized Zell, not as a throwback to an earlier era, but as one of us, a modern communicator, who really does Bring It On.